Mountain West football preview: Boise State Broncos

LAS VEGAS – Taylen Green provided calm amidst chaos.
Boise State started the 2022 season 2-2 and head coach Andy Avalos fired offensive coordinator Tim Plough after an ugly loss to UTEP.
Four-year starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier decided to enter the transfer portal and Dirk Koetter was called out of retirement to take over the play-calling.
“You could write a book on the opportunities we had to learn last year,” Avalos said at the MW media day event two weeks ago at Circa Resort & Casino. “We had to make some tough decisions, but to make them and see guys thrive is what it’s all about.”
The decision to insert Green at quarterback changed everything. He led the Broncos to an 8-0 conference record during the regular season and a win in the Frisco Bowl.
The 6-foot-6, 223-pound sophomore finished the season with 2,042 yards passing, 586 yards rushing and 24 total touchdowns.
“Once they made that change it was dynamic play after dynamic play,” Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl said of the Green effect. “They’ve always had a great combination of having skilled players along with some schematic things that are challenging. Then more so a physicality, too. It’s not like they’re (just) a skilled team. They can run the ball at you hard. All those combinations make it extremely tough and playing on the blue is tough as well. Coach Avalos has done a great job and their offense certainly is a challenge for us.”
The Cowboys defense proved to be one of Green’s greatest challenges on a cold November night in Laramie. But when DeVonne Harris scooped up a fumble by all-MW running back George Holani, who was just trying to run out the clock, it was Boise State’s QB that chased the defensive end down.
Safety JL Skinner intercepted Jayden Clemons in the end zone moments after Green’s game-saving tackle to preserve a 20-17 win over the Cowboys.
“There is no question that was not an ideal situation to be put in, but as (Green) would tell you, that’s why everybody practices tackling, and he wants that clip to make sure we use it,” Avalos said. “It goes to show how critical the emphasis in our program is: One is ball security, and one is tackling.”
The Broncos, who lost to Fresno State in the MW championship game, are picked to finish first in the preseason MW media poll.
Green is back to lead a loaded offense that features the one-two punch of Holani (1,157 yards, 10 touchdowns) and Ashton Jeanty (821 yards, seven touchdowns) in the backfield.
Boise State also returns wide receivers Billy Bowens (462 yards, four touchdowns) and Stefan Cobbs (396 yards, two touchdowns) and tight end Riley Smith (214 yards, one touchdown).
However, Avalos announced Monday that leading receiver Latrell Caples (549 yards, four touchdowns) has suffered a season-ending injury.
The third-year head coach confident in the offensive line protecting the program’s rising star entering fall camp.
“Taylen is a guy that is willing to spend time, whether it’s by himself or with his teammates to help grow. Obviously, this next phase is going to be huge, fall camp, putting on the pads,” Avalos said. “The older guys on the offensive side of the ball really appreciate how hard he has worked this summer.”
Avalos, a former standout linebacker at Boise State who returned to his alma mater after a successful stint as Oregon’s defensive coordinator, must replace six starters on defense, including Cowboys killer Skinner.
Leading tackler DJ Schramm is back at linebacker looking to help the program win a conference title for the first time since 2019.
“We appreciate the nod, but at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean a whole lot because we haven’t played any games yet,” Schramm said of Boise State being voted as the favorite to win the MW. “Whether the target is on our back or not, we’re going to go out there and treat it the same.”
The Broncos face a daunting non-conference schedule that includes road games at Washington (Sept. 2) and Memphis (Sept. 30). Boise State also hosts first-year Big 12 member UCF on Sept. 9 at Albertson Stadium.
“It’s awesome to show the brand of football that we play. Not only the Boise State brand, but also the Mountain West Conference brand,” Smith said. “We’re always seen as the underdogs, but we come out and we play these big-team names and it’s exciting to get the opportunity to show what we have and show what the conference is capable of.”
The Broncos play at reigning champion Fresno State on Nov. 4 and host Air Force in the regular-season finale on Nov. 24.
UW also plans to contend for the 2023 title, but that would require beating Boise State on the blue turf for the first time. The Pokes visit Albertson Stadium on Oct. 28.
“We always know we’re going against really good competition and we’re always going to get their best game. Going against a team like Wyoming is always a hard game,” Smith said. “They’re dogs. They’re always fighting and it’s always a tough atmosphere, whether it’s in Boise or Wyoming. We love playing Wyoming and can’t wait to play them this year.”

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